Mitt Romney's team rocked as key player Tim Pawlenty walks

Co-chairman quits campaign as Republicans try to recover from video embarrassment

A top officer in the Mitt Romney presidential team abruptly abandoned ship yesterday offering fresh embarrassment for the Republican candidate and capping an awful 10 days of below-decks pandemonium and chaos.

With less than 50 days left in the race, Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota Governor who, as co-chairman of Mr Romney's campaign, had been one of his most visible spokesmen at the recent convention and on the trail, announced that he was bowing out to head a financial industry lobbying group in Washington.

The news was another unwelcome distraction just as Team Romney was taking steps to turn the page with a new stump script for the candidate emphasising his commitment to "the 100 per cent" of America and a newly packed schedule of campaigning by himself and running mate Paul Ryan that will kick off on Monday with a three-day bus tour of Ohio. Voters can also expect to see more of Ann Romney.

Both Mr Pawlenty, who was briefly a runner in the Republican primaries, and the campaign sought to downplay the departure. "While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country," Mr Romney said.

After refusing for several days to back down from the substance of comments video-taped at a donors' dinner in May, in which he wrote off 47 per cent of voters as "victims" who depend on handouts and therefore won't vote for him, Mr Romney changed tack abruptly at a forum taped by Univision, a Spanish-language channel, in Miami late on Wednesday.

"My campaign is about the 100 per cent in America and I'm concerned about them," he said, in a bid to bury all memory of his 47 per cent comments. "I've demonstrated my capacity to help the 100 per cent."

At a later rally, he tried to complete his rehabilitation by acknowledging that government support for people has a role. "That's how America works. We have big hearts. We care for people who have needs. We help lift them up," he said, before adding, "But then we don't make that a permanent lifestyle."

It will take more to dispel the gloom in Republican ranks, however, in part because the headwinds of recent days have not just been of Mr Romney's making.

Polling data continues to show that President Barack Obama got a lift out of his party's convention in Charlotte. More important, however, are new numbers showing that Americans are starting to evince more optimism about the chances of an economic recovery.

Since Charlotte, polls have shown the numbers of Americans who think the country is moving in the right direction jumping by six to nine points, including in a new Washington Post survey yesterday of voters in the key swing state of Virginia.

Mr Ryan, who will be the first to ride the Ohio bus tour next week, spent yesterday trying to reassure Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives at a behind-closed-doors meeting in Washington urging them "not to get distracted by the day-to-day polls," according to members who attended, and "to stay positive".

"Here's our commitment: we are going to make this about the big things," Mr Ryan told his peers. "We need to go on offense and we need to give our constituents the choice of two futures."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Traffic Planner

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the successful candidate you...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Designer - Graduate Scheme

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join one of the UK's leading de...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor